J.J. Abrams Pays Tribute to Carrie Fisher in First 'Star Wars: Episode IX' Set Photo
Walt Disney Pictures

The director shares the official picture, featuring John Boyega's Finn and Joonas Suotamo's Chewbacca, to mark the beginning of production.

AceShowbiz - J.J. Abrams has shared the first official set picture of "Star Wars Episode IX" to mark the start of production. The photo features a camera rig with John Boyega and Joonas Suotamo, who play Finn and Chewbacca respectively, out of focus in the background.

Remembering Carrie Fisher whose character Leia will be featured in the upcoming movie posthumously, the director wrote in the caption, "Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go. Grateful for @rianjohnson and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part. #IX."

Disney and Lucasfilm recently revealed that Princess Leia would be resurrected for the new film via unused footage that Abrams had previously gathered while shooting 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".

"Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG (computer-generated) character," Abrams said in a statement. "With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie's legacy and role as Leia in 'Episode IX' by using unseen footage we shot together in 'Episode VII'."

Billy Dee Williams is also confirmed to reprise his role as Lando Calrissian, while Mark Hamill will return as Luke Skywalker. Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran and Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd will also return for "Episode IX", with Keri Russell and Richard E. Grant tapped as new additions to the cast.

Abrams and Chris Terrio wrote the script of the eighth installment of the "Star Wars" film franchise. It is set for release on December 20, 2019 in the United States.

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